Alchemy discussion forum Home
 Search       Members   Calendar   Help   Home 
Search by username
Not logged in - Login | Register 

Alchemists' diaries
 Moderated by: alchemyd  
 New Topic   Reply   Print 
AuthorPost
alchemyd
Administrator
 

Joined: Thu Sep 13th, 2007
Location: Glasgow, United Kingdom
Posts: 26
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Sun Sep 28th, 2008 11:14 am
 Quote  Reply 
Many alchemical notebooks contain details of idealised processes. The alchemist outlines the process and presents it to the reader as a fait accompli. There are very few actual descriptions of how such a process proceeded.

There are very few actual alchemical diaries in which the alchemist recorded the progress of one of his experimental processes. One of these diaries is found in a manuscript in the British Library, MS Sloane 2222, dated to the middle of the 17th century. Here the alchemist describes in detail his working through an alchemical process. I have transcribed this into modern English and placed it onto the web site at

http://www.alchemywebsite.com/alchemists_diary.html

It shows clearly how an alchemist of this period saw and described the work proceeding in his vessel. Here he uses a glass vessel in order that he can observe the process under way. The process took a full year, with most of the activity in the first six months. This diary gives us some insight into how an alchemist of this period was working.

I know of a few other such diaries, one here in Glasgow, which I have begun transcribing. It also gives an insight into how an alchemist observed  processes in action. As these diaries were private notebooks not written for an audience, one must suppose they are free of rhetoric and match closely the actual experience of the alchemist.

I would like to gather together some of these diaries as they would make a great study. So if anyone knows of such alchemical diaries, I would be pleased to know.



 

adammclean
Member


Joined: Fri Sep 14th, 2007
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 602
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Sun Sep 28th, 2008 01:42 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Another alchemical diary is that of an unidentified alchemical enthusiast who records his observations and conversations with various alchemists during the period 1687-89. He meticulously records details of his visits and discussions, primarily with Sir Joseph ... of Loughton Hall, but he also personally knew Weidenfeld and Robert Boyle and recorded some discussions with them. It is a key source on alchemy in Britain during the Restoration period. I am currently transcribing the entire diary which is in the Ferguson collection in Glasgow and will publish it in my Magnum Opus series later in 2008 or early 2009.

http://www.alchemywebsite.com/alchemists_diary2.html


 

Paul Ferguson
Member


Joined: Fri Feb 15th, 2008
Location:  
Posts: 1494
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Sun Sep 28th, 2008 07:13 pm
 Quote  Reply 
adammclean wrote:
Another alchemical diary is that of an unidentified alchemical enthusiast who records his observations and conversations with various alchemists during the period 1687-89. He meticulously records details of his visits and discussions, primarily with Sir Joseph ... of Loughton Hall.

http://www.alchemywebsite.com/alchemists_diary2.html


 


Don't know who "Sir Joseph" was, but there's another alchemical link with Loughton Hall. The Wroths lived there from 1579-1738, and Mary Wroth (née Sidney) was the dedicatee of Ben Jonson's "The Alchemist" and niece of the lady alchemist Mary Sidney, who had a laboratory at Wilton House:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lady_Mary_Wroth
http://www.marysidney.com/pages/mary_sidney.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Sidney

Alan Pritchard
Guest
 

Joined: 
Location:  
Posts: 
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Sun Sep 28th, 2008 07:20 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Is this diary connected with Donald Dickson's articles about Thomas Henshaw and Sir Robert Paston? He draws on the same MS.

Paul Ferguson
Member


Joined: Fri Feb 15th, 2008
Location:  
Posts: 1494
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Sun Sep 28th, 2008 08:02 pm
 Quote  Reply 
One of Isaac Newton's lab notebooks is available on-line here:

http://webapp1.dlib.indiana.edu/newton/mss/intro/ALCH00110

See section 5 in particular:

"Among Newton's experimental notes there are also clear attempts to interpret and implement Starkey's mysterious transmutational writings, which the young American composed under the pseudonym of Eirenaeus Philalethes. On 43r, for example, Newton describes his successful attempts at making Philalethes's "net," an alloy of copper and martial antimony regulus with a depression in the center and a fine crystalline surface resembling network. On 54v Newton performs further experiments with the net, which he now equates with "the oak," another Philalethan product. Philalethes thought that the myth in which Cadmus, the legendary founder of Thebes, impaled a poisonous dragon upon an oak tree with his iron lance contained a hidden recipe for the production of antimony regulus from stibnite, the ore of antimony. Philalethes elsewhere advised to fuse the product of this reaction with copper, giving Newton license to identify the "oak" with the "net," as he clearly does on 54v as well as 68r and 68v. On May 10, 1681 (see 62r ), Newton seems to have initially felt that he experienced a breakthrough in decoding Philalethes, for he says (in Latin) that he has understood the meaning of the "two doves" of Diana, one of the cover-names employed by Starkey's pseudonymous adept. Newton soon realized the delusory nature of his discovery, for he crossed the passage out. On May 18 (see 62v ) he had a similar experience, when he temporarily believed that he had uncovered the real sense of Mercury's caduceus: subsequently he struck this passage out as well. The sheer intellectual challenge of disentangling the riddling allegories of Philalethes and other alchemists was clearly one of the driving impulses behind Newton's chymistry."

adammclean
Member


Joined: Fri Sep 14th, 2007
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 602
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Sun Sep 28th, 2008 08:31 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Alan Pritchard wrote: Is this diary connected with Donald Dickson's articles about Thomas Henshaw and Sir Robert Paston? He draws on the same MS.
Yes. In his article  in Notes Rec. R .Soc. London, 51 (1), 1997.

adammclean
Member


Joined: Fri Sep 14th, 2007
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 602
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Sun Sep 28th, 2008 08:41 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Paul Ferguson wrote: Don't know who "Sir Joseph" was, but there's another alchemical link with Loughton Hall. The Wroths lived there from 1579-1738, and Mary Wroth (née Sidney) was the dedicatee of Ben Jonson's "The Alchemist" and niece of the lady alchemist Mary Sidney, who had a laboratory at Wilton House:



I have failed to identify "Sir Joseph" despite much looking. I cannot trace him to Loughton Hall. As you say, this was associated with the Wroth family, but although the family seems well documented, there appears to be no "Joseph" during the period of the diary. In one part of the diary there is a reference to Sir Joseph having treated King Charles for some illness, so he must have been a well known figure during that time.

 

Paul Ferguson
Member


Joined: Fri Feb 15th, 2008
Location:  
Posts: 1494
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Mon Sep 29th, 2008 12:01 am
 Quote  Reply 
adammclean wrote:
Paul Ferguson wrote: Don't know who "Sir Joseph" was, but there's another alchemical link with Loughton Hall. The Wroths lived there from 1579-1738, and Mary Wroth (née Sidney) was the dedicatee of Ben Jonson's "The Alchemist" and niece of the lady alchemist Mary Sidney, who had a laboratory at Wilton House:



I have failed to identify "Sir Joseph" despite much looking. I cannot trace him to Loughton Hall. As you say, this was associated with the Wroth family, but although the family seems well documented, there appears to be no "Joseph" during the period of the diary. In one part of the diary there is a reference to Sir Joseph having treated King Charles for some illness, so he must have been a well known figure during that time.

 


Just a guess - but could it have been Sir Joseph Williamson FRS?

Paul Ferguson
Member


Joined: Fri Feb 15th, 2008
Location:  
Posts: 1494
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Mon Sep 29th, 2008 12:16 am
 Quote  Reply 
adammclean wrote:
Paul Ferguson wrote: Don't know who "Sir Joseph" was, but there's another alchemical link with Loughton Hall. The Wroths lived there from 1579-1738, and Mary Wroth (née Sidney) was the dedicatee of Ben Jonson's "The Alchemist" and niece of the lady alchemist Mary Sidney, who had a laboratory at Wilton House:



I have failed to identify "Sir Joseph" despite much looking. I cannot trace him to Loughton Hall.

 


Could be a different Loughton Hall. Besides the one in Epping Forest there's also one in Shropshire and another one in Scotland (seat of the Baird family).

adammclean
Member


Joined: Fri Sep 14th, 2007
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 602
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Mon Sep 29th, 2008 01:00 am
 Quote  Reply 
Paul Ferguson wrote:
Could be a different Loughton Hall. Besides the one in Epping Forest there's also one in Shropshire and another one in Scotland (seat of the Baird family).


Yeah I suppose so, but the diary seems to indicate that  its writer lived near London. Maybe some other clues will turn up when I work further on the transcription.

 

Johann Plattner
Member


Joined: Sat Feb 23rd, 2008
Location: Germany
Posts: 40
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Mon Jun 27th, 2011 06:43 pm
 Quote  Reply 
Adam,

may I ask you whether the mentioned diary meanwhile had been published in your Magnum Opus series ?

(somehow it isn't possible for me to place the cursor below the quotation)

adammclean wrote:
.. of Loughton Hall, but he also personally knew Weidenfeld and Robert Boyle and recorded some discussions with them. It is a key source on alchemy in Britain during the Restoration period. I am currently transcribing the entire diary which is in the Ferguson collection in Glasgow and will publish it in my Magnum Opus series later in 2008 or early 2009.

http://www.alchemywebsite.com/alchemists_diary2.html

Last edited on Mon Jun 27th, 2011 06:44 pm by Johann Plattner

adammclean
Member


Joined: Fri Sep 14th, 2007
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 602
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Mon Jun 27th, 2011 08:19 pm
 Quote  Reply 
I hope to publish it later this year.


 Current time is 04:28 pm




Powered by WowBB 1.7 - Copyright © 2003-2006 Aycan Gulez